Take a study trip through Slovakia, a country in Central Europe. This country offers wonderful alpine landscapes, especially in the Tatra Mountains and in the south it comprises a part of the Pannonian Plain. A city tour through Bratislava, the capital, is particularly recommended. Visit the old town with the historic castle, from which you have a wonderful view over the Danube valley. The oldest university in the country, theaters and numerous museums are also fascinating. You can also admire the Old Bridge, the main building of the Twin City Liner on the Danube, the old building of the Slovak National Theater or the Good Shepherd House with its clock museum. Do not forget the cities of Kosice (Kaschau) with the Elisabeth Cathedral, the Bishop’s Palace, the Dominican Church or the State Theater; the city of Preso (Preschau) or the city of Nitra (Neutra) with the Neutra castle, the bishopric and other fortifications. Take a tour of Slovakia!
Spišský hrad castle
When traveling to Slovakia, Spišský hrad Castle, also known as Spiš Castle or earlier Spiš House and Spiš Castle, should definitely be on the agenda. A visit to the castle is absolutely worthwhile, as it is one of the largest and oldest castle complexes in all of Central Europe, which has been around since the 12th century. It has a total area of 41,426 m².
After a fire in 1710 the castle was badly damaged and after another fire in 1780 it was left to its fate. In 1945, after the end of the war, the castle became the property of Slovakia. With numerous and extensive renovation and reconstruction work, the castle was protected and decay prevented.
Since 1961 it has been the national cultural monument of Slovakia and the pride of the inhabitants.
Together with the Zipser Kapitel and Zehra, the Zipser Castle has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993.
The location of the Spišský hrad castle
The Spiš Castle is located in northeastern Slovakia, east of Spišské Podhradie and belongs to the municipality of Zehra in the Spiš region.
The gigantic castle ruins look very impressive and mysterious from afar. It extends on a 634 meter high, green travertine rock and offers a fantastic view of the hilly surrounding area.
The Spišský hrad castle museum
Besides the former torture chamber, the kitchen and the chapel, there are many interesting things to see in the castle. Among other things, there is a museum in the castle complex with collections that tell and inform about the history of the castle. The collection of weapons from the Middle Ages is also very interesting.
The castle complex is open from March to October.
Wooden churches of the Carpathian Arch
In the so-called Carpathian Arch, especially in the region around Prešov in eastern Slovakia, there is a unique opportunity to go on a journey of discovery to the 26 Slovak wooden churches that can be admired there. Not only connoisseurs of sacred architecture and old folk architecture go into raptures when looking at these wooden churches. Their popular builders have succeeded in expressing people’s desire for harmony with nature in a simple and at the same time admirable way.
Folk architecture gems
All of these churches are built entirely of wood, and not a single nail was allowed to be used for their construction. Its oldest is the Roman Catholic wooden church of St. Francis of Assisi in Hervartov, built in the Gothic style at the end of the 15th century. Adorned with Gothic panel paintings and wall paintings, it is considered the most valuable of all wooden churches in the Carpathian Arch. Churches built later were referred to as Protestant articulated churches in accordance with legal provisions in the 17th century. Most of the youngest wooden churches in the Carpathian Arch date from the 18th century and were Greek Catholic. In them you can find the unique Carpathian icons, which are kept in the Baroque or Rococo style. Some of them later became Orthodox churches.
Treasures of the UNESCO World Heritage
If you have the opportunity to visit some of these wooden churches on a trip or study trip to Slovakia, then you could concentrate on the eight churches that have been UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 2008 as Wooden Churches of the Carpathian Arch. In addition to the already mentioned church in Hervartov, another seven wooden churches of all three styles are part of the world cultural heritage. This is also the case with the richly painted Evangelical articulated church in Leštiny, which has a wooden bell tower. The ones in Ruská Bystrá and Bodružal deserve special mention as representatives of the Greek Orthodox wooden churches. The latter dates from 1658, was restored a few years ago and is characterized by its articulated shingle roof and a remarkable iconostasis from the 18th century.
Banská Štiavnica – Schemnitz
Charming mining town in the Schemnitz Mountains
Banská Štiavnica is located in the middle of the forests of the mountain Štiavnické vrchy and is on the list of UNESCO world cultural heritage. The former mining town, 140 km north of Budapest, with its 10,900 inhabitants is historically one of the most interesting towns in Slovakia. The mining of precious metals in the area has a long and moving history. Silver ore prevailed among the mined metals and for this reason Banská Štiavnica was given the nickname “Silver City”.
Banská Štiavnica gradually became the largest mining center of the Habsburg monarchy in the 18th century. In the period between 1790 and 1863, the mountains that surrounded the city produced 490 tons of silver and 11 tons of gold. Mining schools and science also flourished in the city. The oldest mining school in the Kingdom of Hungary was founded here in 1735, and in 1762 it was promoted to the Banská akadémia (Mining Academy), the first university of its kind in the world. In 1846 she joined the Forest Academy, founded in 1808, to form a joint unit. Prosperity and fame returned to the city for some time, and at the end of the 18th century, Banská Štiavnica was the third largest city in the Kingdom of Hungary with 23 thousand inhabitants. But the city’s development came to a standstill at the end of the 19th century. when mining was reduced. This trend continued in the 20th century. In 2001 the last mine in Štiavnica was closed.
The buildings in the historic center are part of the city monument protection area. Banská Štiavnica comprises up to 360 buildings and together they form a unique ensemble of high cultural and historical value, which is embedded in the wonderful surroundings of the mountain Štiavnické vrchy. The main attraction of the city center is the Old Castle to the west of Trojičné námestie. The oldest part of the castle is the former parish church of the Virgin Mary. It was built together with the adjoining ossuary in the 13th century as a three-aisled Romanesque basilica. Today the museum is housed in the old castle. The collections of targets and pipes are particularly interesting. The New Castle (Nový zámok) has stood on the opposite hill since 1571. It is also used as a museum and has an exhibition which documents the Turkish wars. The castle also offers a wonderful view of the city.